The Back Bay, Venice Beach Canals & Even Waterfalls In L.A.
You would thank that, after some 20 years of living in Los Angeles, I would know every nook, cranny, “secret” and hidden place the city has to offer, that it would be a routine as shots of the Hollywood sign during a sporting event.
But Los Angeles is not like any other city in the world, and it’s continually giving surprises even to long-time locals if you poke your head up on occasion from your usual spots.
I was reminded of this when within the span of two weeks when I was introduced by a local to a heretofore unknown bike trail along the Back Bay in Newport Beach and when I took part in the LA Times’ Happy Hour Hiking Club’s walk through the Venice Beach canals.
In both cases, I was on the edge of a highly populated, heavy traffic area, but both spots were so peaceful it was like being in a completely isolated area.
Biking The Newport Beach Back Bay
This is a bike and running path – even a horse trail and I do wish they would clean up after the horses! – through the back bay of Newport Beach. It’s behind PCH and runs from popular Fashion Island to beyond Balboa Island.
There’s a marsh, birds, beaches, even a restaurant and bar (Back Bay Bistro, with its a popular weekend champagne buffet brunch).
I have been to Newport Beach dozens of times and while I knew this “back bay” exited and even have been to the weekend brunch, had no idea there’s a huge bike and running path.
Map: Newport Beach, CA
Walking The Venice Beach Canals
The formal name of this area is the Venice Canal Historical District and it’s here where you can see Abbott Kinney’s original plan to create the Venice of America actually exits, if even in a small way.
Walk along the sidewalk by the canal next to Baja Cantina off Washington Blvd, and notice the cool homes with porches that face the water, see the occasional kayaker or people paddling a canoe and arched pedestrian bridges connecting from one bank to another.
The really surprising part to me is that there’s actually a network of canals. I had long assumed there was just one but there are a couple that intersect the main one. It’s all very scenic and serene, and a completely different atmosphere than what is taking place along the Venice Boardwalk just two blocks to the west.
In December, the locals even hold a holiday bridge decorating contest.
Actually, the canals reminded me more of the ones in Siesta Key, Florida (minus the gators, of course) than anything I’ve seen in Venice. Still, it’s a welcome change to the all the concrete we see too much of in Los Angeles.
So next time you’re in Venice Beach, take the half-hour stroll through the canals; I guarantee you’ll be saying to yourself “gee, there’s so many pleasant little surprises in L.A.”
Location: Venice Canal Historical Society Map
Waterfalls In L.A.
Oh, here’s another “hidden gem” of L.A. Did you know Los Angeles has waterfalls?
One is Eaton Canyon Falls in Eaton Park, a five-mile walk through the woods that ends up with a waterfall into a pond. To the side is a slide where you go down rocks into a deep pool.
You can actually start your day here, and be strolling along the Venice canals before dusk and then be on the beach for sunset.
That would certainly make for a fine day in L.A.
Address: 1750 N Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA